Statement on Item 23 : indigenous populations. Written statement.E/CN.4/1998/NGO/87
The situation in Mexico regarding the issues which affect indigenous populations has not changed and persists two years after the signature of the Agreements of San Andrés. The problems are still unsolved.
After two years, the Federal Government instead of fulfilment of the Agreements continues keeping a campaign against organizations, villages, communities and indigenous leaders. The Government’s actions show us the evidence of this situation.
1) The Government of Mexico has militarized the indigenous regions of Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Guanajato, Puebla, Jalisco, Nayarit, Tabasco, Campeche. This militarization shows the fear the Government has towards the voice of indigenous people. The number of government military troops presence grows in Chiapas violating and making interrogatories in the Northern Zone communities, Selva, Altos de Chiapas, Sierra Mixe y Sierra Juarez, and the repression continues at Loxichas in Oaxaca.
2) There has been a campaign against genuine representatives and indigenous leaders, through intimidation, jail, torture, and murders in the regions of Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Huasteca, and lately in Queretaro.
3) The Government creates conflicts in the communities giving arms to paramilitary groups which are supported by public security forces and even backed up by the Federal Army and who sow fear throughout Chiapas, pretending to do the same in other regions of the country. The killing of Acteal, which is to be condemned in every sense from a human point of view, and which is an evidence of the Government’s use of this policy of genocide.
While in Chiapas the dirty war of the Government empties out the entire zone creating more and more displaced persons, who are surviving under inhuman conditions but who still have the dignity of refusing any help from those who put them under this dreadful situation. The Government continues to persist in slandering the indigenous people and without hearing none of their petitions.
The Government also continues to persist in its mega-projects as the Tehuantepec Istmo, which has never been consulted to the populations and which will leave the people without their natural resources, destroying their environment, desarticulating the community life and giving the multinational enterprises the possibility of dividing the country and getting all the profits only for themselves.
It is for all these reasons that the indigenous populations insist:
1) The compliance of the Agreements of San Andres and that the Federal Constitution recognizes the right of freedom expressed regarding their autonomy.
2) That the Government retires its contra-position and that the Government supports the original agreement of the COCOPA Reforms dated 29 November 1996.
3) That the Mexican Army gets out from the indigenous regions and that the Army goes back to their quarters, doing strictly what it is stated in the Constitution.
4) The punishment of material and intellectual murders in Acteal, as well as the disarming of the paramilitary groups and giving an end to the impunity of their acting.
5) To stop the persecution, torture, jailing and murder of indigenous leaders.
6) The freedom of prisoners who are the foundation of “zapatistas” support and the liberation of political prisoners.
7) The protection of territories and indigenous lands from all those who pretend occupy and make smaller the vital space for the growing of communities.
8) The reform and improvement of Article 27 of the Constitution to make it again on the spirit which it was conceived originally.
9) The cancellation and to stop all the mega-projects started by the Government and the transnational enterprises, and also to comply with the agreement signed in San Andres regarding the consultation of the populations and the indigenous people for every project that they would plan to start.
10) Respect of the sacred sites.
11) Compliance of the ILO Agreement 169 which was signed and ratified by the Mexican Government.
The indigenous populations are again consigned to oblivion in the process of globalization in which Mexico is involved, and which has been accelerated during 1994 with the Free Trade Agreement which was signed with the Government of United States and Canada. And at the most extreme form, when the peoples? lands are desired either by the landlords or the oil , uranium or wood extraction enterprises making people’s lives becoming undermined, all of this along with the military and paramilitary presence as the only response to their struggle for an equal society.
During the stay in Chiapas of the International commission for observation of the human rights, in which a Cetim?s delegate took part, we were able to observe that the land problem is still the centerpiece to understand the conflict of Chiapas and we see that in the zones where there has been occupation or where the people have manifested their organization process, the white guards and the militarization seems it is the only answer to give to the people’s demand.
The populations feel that their only guarantee not to see themselves consumed under the process of the world economic globalization is to struggle for the recognition of their own rights and culture, their personal ways of organization and the supremacy on their natural resources.
To lean on the memory of their own ways of living, which is a struggle for survival and in order that their existence is not to be forgotten.
The democratic transition of Mexico will not be done at the expense of the indigenous populations but it will only be possible as far as their rights are a guarantee of democracy, justice and freedom for everybody.